I am writing to day to share the action of the Session taken at a called meeting this morning in response to the request of the Governor and subsequently from Mid-Kentucky Presbytery that because of ever increasing numbers related to the COVID virus communities of faith return to virtual worship only through at least December 13. No one is happy to have to take this step, but at this point it is not about happiness, but about faithfully living in community. Your pastor and your elected leaders in the Session understand how frustrating this is for everyone, but we feel that doing what is being asked is the best course of action for our congregation at this time.
We have been able to offer the option of in person worship since August 23. There are many churches who have not been able to return to in person worship at all so this opportunity has been a gift and I believe we have faithfully followed the protocols that we lined out and kept it as safe as we could. I have also said that, particularly in the past three or four weeks that folks worshipping in person should watch for communication from us as the numbers were clearly not going in the right direction. We feel now that in the interest of the safety of the congregation and to give our best witness to our community returning to virtual only through at least December 13 (when it will be reevaluated) is our best course of action.
We will continue to post worship on Sunday – which should now be up by 11:00 a.m. as we will not be recording at 11 to post later. We will also continue to post Wednesday Evening Prayer. Additionally please be aware that there will be an Advent Devotional series that I will be writing called “Advent Journey Through The Holy Land” which will be posted on our Facebook page daily from November 29 through at least December 25.
Please know that a great way to share prayer concerns continues to be to email the church at email@example.com.
We will soon be receiving Advent Calendars that we want to get to our children – one for each child, not one per household so that each child can open the small window each day and experience the journey to the manger in Bethlehem in this way. When we receive them we will be in communication with our regular participants to see how we can best get the calendars to you. If you have children in your life and would like one of these calendars please let me know, as long as we have them on hand I will be happy to get one to you. Do not hesitate to inquire. We are also working on a bit of a surprise for each household in our church family. It is a very appropriate memento of this trying year of pandemic. Also we will be including a printed set of devotionals by Jill Duffield of the Presbyterian Outlook.
Thank you for your faithfulness in journeying through this year together. Thank you for your continued support of the church through your prayers and through your giving. Let us continue to pray for each other and for our community, nation and world as we face all the normal circumstances of life alongside of the very particular circumstance of this pandemic.
Saturday, September 19.
We will continue with in person worship in the Activities Building tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Temperature taking, masks, social distance and readily available hand sanitizer are all part of our gathering.
Tomorrow is a 3rd Sunday so you are invited to bring non-perishable items for our Outdoor Food Pantry. There will be a box to place them in as you enter before you get to the temperature taking station.
Friday, September 4.
We are continuing to offer in person worship for those who are well and are comfortable coming in person. We are also continuing to post the worship service virtually. As the virtual worship is taken from the in person worship in the morning at 11:00 a.m. it is not posted till sometime in the afternoon for those worshipping virtually. This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month which means it is Communion Sunday at Hebron. We will have communion at our in person worship using specially prepared elements for maintaining our social distance. Those worshipping online will be able to follow along with the Communion service as part of the video service.
We will have in person worship in the Activities Building tomorrow, Sunday, August 30, at 11:00 a.m.
We will wear masks, we will social distance, we will enter in an orderly fashion and we will dismiss in an orderly fashion. We will be taking temperatures as you enter. These protocols are the fabric of our covenant agreement as a community attempting to allow for the possibility of in person worship for those who are comfortable attending. There will continue to be – every week – virtual worship made available in the afternoon on Sunday.
We will be ordaining Mike Streible during worship tomorrow as an Elder, and installing Mike and also Beverly Caple as members of Session.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
It is Friday, August 21 and I wanted to check in with you to remind again that the Session has voted to return to in-person worship this Sunday, August 23. This action was taken at a meeting on Friday, August 14 and announced last Sunday at the virtual worship and on Wednesday Evening Prayer. Letters have been sent to those who do not receive email.
The same protocol as on July 19 will continue to be in place. We will gather in the Activities Building. We will enter, worship and depart using social distancing. As you come in there is a hand sanitizer as you make your way towards the station where your temperature will be taken. Chairs are placed around the Activities Building at social distance from one another. Masks are required. The service will last approximately forty minutes. Offering baskets will be placed at the two exits that you will be directed to take at the end of worship. We thank you for your full cooperation with these protocols at our July 19 worship and look forward to your continued honoring of our covenant to help make our time together as safe as possible.
It is entirely understandable that returning to in-person worship at this time is not something you will want to choose to do. With that in mind the service will be recorded and we will continue to have virtual worship available for you to view. If you are not feeling well please do not plan to attend. If you are not comfortable, have preexisting conditions or other reasons you choose not to attend this Sunday, we completely support your decision and understand that we continue to navigate uncertain times.
Your giving in support of our congregation continues to be appreciated. Continued thanks to those who are able to continue to give and prayers for those who may be experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic.
A personal note: The great move of 2020 for the Love family is complete. Eliza is and Cameron are both at their new places in Durham, North Carolina where they are beginning work on masters degrees at Duke University. Eliza is beginning her Master of Divinity, Cameron is beginning a Masters in Public Policy. Much of August was oriented towards getting ready to move and then moving them one at a time. We are excited for their future and appreciate your prayers. And now we get back to empty nesting.
Blessings with you and with your family. Please call or let us know by email if you have prayer concerns.
The Session met on Sunday (August 2) and decided that barring unforeseen rapid shift to better numbers we definitely will not be in-person this Sunday (August 9), and at present anticipate being out through the month of August. It is not what we had hoped for, but it was the unanimous consensus that this was the best decision for now. Continue to worship with us online, by phone (I – George – am dealing with last Sunday’s audio issues on the phone sermon, my apologies), and continue to pray for our Session as they lead, for our congregation, and for everyone as we deal with this pandemic.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is Thursday, July 23, as I write to you this afternoon.
This past Sunday, July 19, was our first in-person worship since Sunday, March 8. Those of you who heard me count off the Sundays at the service know that was 18 weeks of virtual worship with no in-person worship because of the pandemic. During the sermon on Sunday I said that the one thing we could count on was uncertainty and that we would be taking things week to week and not taking anything about upcoming weeks for granted. Turns out that was an accurate observation. The Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky, John Odom, let us know that he had been on a conference call with the Governor and religious leaders from around the state for the Kentucky Council of Churches weekly check-in yesterday (Wednesday) morning. On that call the Governor requested that, in light of rising numbers, Houses of Worship suspend in-person gatherings for the next two Sundays. Our Presbytery has concurred and echoes that request. I have shared with Session that my inclination is to follow this guidance and they have agreed. As a result we will not have in-person worship at Hebron for at least the next two Sundays.
I want to be clear that this is not an order or mandate from the Governor or from the Presbytery. This was a request based on their interpretation of where the numbers are with the Coronavirus at present. I am disappointed as I greatly enjoyed being back together in the Activities Building, but I believe this is the best, most responsible approach for us to take at this time. We want to do our best to make decisions and act in ways that truly demonstrate that we value each one of you and are committed to doing our best to be safe and operate in a safe environment. We will evaluate again after the two weeks based on further guidance and the numbers at that time.
Please be praying for Pat Higdon, she has a variety of health issues for which she is being treated and she loves to know of our prayers.
Prayers for Rich Anderson. Rich had been in rehab, but has had to return to the hospital for the time being. Prayers also for his wife Debbie as she supports and encourages, sometimes from a distance due to COVID-19 visitation restrictions.
I hope you had an opportunity to check out our Wednesday Evening Prayer video this week (Wednesday, July 22). It was a conversation with a seminary friend, Tony Roberts who has had to reimagine his ministry due to being diagnosed bi-polar in 1995. After leaving ministry in the local church in 2008 he has been working in mental health advocacy and has written two books on mental health based out of his experiences.
Also I invite you to read through the book of Psalms with me in ten weeks beginning on Monday, August 3. We will read Monday through Friday with weekends off (or available for catch-up reading). There is a chart that you can find at our website (hebronpc.net) to print off with the reading schedule. A devotional will be posted most days to go with the readings. Please let me know if you have questions or trouble getting the reading schedule.
These are challenging days. Remember that each one is facing some challenge in life totally unrelated to the common one that we are all sharing. Keep that in mind and let’s all aim to be as kind, caring and understanding as we can be, asking God to help us along the way.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It is Monday, July 13, as I write this week’s COVID e-mail update and we have a big week ahead of us.
Beginning on Sunday, March 15 and for 18 Sundays all together we have been holding worship virtually without in-person gathering as a possibility on Sunday mornings. Several weeks ago we began to gather on Tuesday for our Tuesday morning prayer group under the shade of the big tree in the front yard of the church. This Sunday, July 19, we will be returning to in-person worship. It will be very different, at least at the present time, but it will be in-person.
We will be gathering for now in the Activities Building. We have socially spaced the chairs in the Activities Building to allow us to fit people in and have some flexibility for families who may choose to come and have a table for children to put coloring books or tablets on while we are worshipping. We will be asking you to allow us to take your temperature as you enter; that you social distance as you come in, as we worship, and as you leave; that you wear a mask into the building and while we are worshipping. The only person not wearing a mask will be the worship leader, while speaking, and that person will be at an additional distance from the congregation. We will have hand sanitizer as you enter the building and we ask that you make use of that. The less we utilize the restrooms, the better; if restrooms are necessary there will be no more than one person (or parent/child) in one at a time due to their size. There will be surface cleaner in the restrooms to allow you to clean surfaces. There will be a video posted on Wednesday or Thursday to Facebook and to our website that will walk through the procedure for coming in and going out and again will go through what was mentioned above.
The worship itself will be shorter – not longer than 45 minutes. We will not be singing. There will be no bulletins. We will have baskets for the offering at the doors as people leave as we cannot pass the offering plate due to the virus. If you do not bring a mask with you we will have masks on hand. Given the responses to our survey it is unlikely we will have more people than we can fit into the space while following guidelines – that number is around 50. It will be helpful if folks can begin to arrive around 10:45 a.m. in order to allow us to help everyone be seated, so that we can begin as close to 11:00 a.m. as possible.
If you are unable to attend in-person at this time, we understand that this is the case and see that this will be the reality for a number of you from the returned surveys. We will continue to have online worship available. For this Sunday, July 12, I will be trying to record the service and post it after we are finished so it would not be available online until perhaps Sunday evening depending on how fast the upload goes. If this produces a video that can be heard we may go this direction with the Sunday worship video. I apologize in advance for a week or two of trial and error as we figure out what works best for the online piece.
I appreciate everyone’s patience throughout all that we’ve been through to this point and now through this time of transition. For some it has perhaps been too slow, for some it may be too soon, but patience and caring have carried the day and that is a blessing. The Session has been great to work with and I have been clear with them that my feeling is in every instance to go towards the side of caution. You all are every one important, your health is important and I want to do everything that we can as a community of faith to keep one another healthy and well during this pandemic. It is not over. It continues and it is important for us not to see a return to in-person worship as a return to whatever was normal prior to March 15. We are working at learning our way forward in this troubling season. Continue to pray for our church, for one another, and for our state, nation and world as we navigate this present reality.
Grace and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is Monday morning, July 6, 2020 as I write this edition of the Coronvirus e-mail update.
Please send any prayer concerns you would like to share to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Session will meet at the church this Thursday, July 9 to do some in person planning for our return to in person worship on Sunday, July 19. I will likely be putting together a short video to put on our FB page to give some indications of what you can expect to find when you arrive on Sunday morning the 19th for worship. Also, please fill out a survey if you have not done so already. The survey can be found by going to the homepage of our website (hebronpc.net). At the top of the page you will find a link to the survey. It has four questions and is easy to complete and submit. We will be looking at how you have answered the survey to help plan for the 19th.
Two things which I’ve said several times, but want to reiterate:
1) We will return to in-person worship on July 19. It will be much different than our last in person worship on March 8. To this point everyone who has answered our survey who has said they would plan to attend has also indicated that they would be willing to abide by the safety precautions that we have outlined (quick overview – social distancing, hand sanitizing, wearing masks). We are a covenant community and our covenant with each other as we come together on the 19th will be to respect these requests. For some they may not feel essential, but you are willing to do them. For others they are very essential and necessary to consider the possibility of in person attendance.
2) No everyone will feel like returning on the 19th to in-person worship. This is completely understandable and there are a variety of reasons why this may be true. Knowing this, we will continue to offer an online worship option as we move forward.
Further thoughts…be aware that everything is fluid during this pandemic. I am hopeful that we will be able to resume in-person worship and be able to continue with it without interruption. We will though continue to follow the news, consider how the virus is impacting us locally, and make decisions accordingly.
I am working on beginning to explore the Psalms and will be preparing a reading schedule for the Psalms if you would like to read along with me when I begin. I’ll be reading a few Psalms each day and writing on something related to each days reading. Most likely dividing the Psalms up into portions that will move us through them in either 40 or 50 days. Look for this in the next couple of weeks if you are interested. If you have always loved the Psalms you will likely enjoy this. If, like me, you have sometimes struggled to connect with the Psalms, perhaps you will find, as I have, that our current circumstances bring a new connection to the thoughts and feelings of this prayer book or hymn book of the Bible.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is Friday morning, June 26 as I write to you today.
Tuesday Prayer Group met this past Tuesday, June 23 on the church lawn. Had a good gathering with masks, sitting in the shade of the tree until the rains came and sent us home a little bit early. We will meet again this Tuesday, June 30. All are welcome. You are encouraged to bring a chair and a mask. Questions – contact me at email@example.com or call me at 502 492-3223.
The Session met yesterday, June 25 and has important news to share. We have set a date of Sunday, July 19 for a return to in-person worship on Sunday morning. We continue to make preparations for this to happen. The Session will meet again on Thursday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the church to evaluate the layout of the space and how we will gather. At present it is likely that on July 19 we will meet in the Activities Building. This will allow us greater flexibility with arranging the space and seemed preferable to us for several reasons for this initial gathering. After the 19th we will evaluate how that space works and begin to determine if a move to the sanctuary seems timely. We have touchless thermometers and plan to take temperatures as folks arrive and enter for worship. We are requesting masks be worn, and that hand sanitizer be used as you enter. We plan to arrange seating to allow for physical distancing and also plan to have some chairs set up at tables if families with children attend and would like to use that space.
There is a four question survey that accompanies this email. I ask that you fill it out and return it as quickly as possible – we’d like to have them back by the 9th so that we can look at the answers at our Session gathering. These are not intended to be anonymous surveys. Please let us know who you are when you send them back. The first question is a very important one as we plan. It asks if you will plan to worship in-person on the 19th. The possible answers are yes, no and I’m not sure. Any of those answers is appropriate. Some of you may feel ready to return. Some may feel that you, for any number of reasons, may not feel comfortable returning to in-person worship at this time. You may simply not know until the day grows closer. Knowing where folks are in their deliberations will help us to begin to have an idea of how many folks may show up on the 19th and also help us to know how the online worship is serving your needs. As above, if you have questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 502 492-3223.
We have purchased a podium with a built-in microphone and speaker for use in the Activities Building. This is not only for worship in that space, but for our potluck/program gathering where hearing is always an issue, especially if the furnace or the AC is running. We have also purchased pre-prepared communion elements for in-person communion for August. We’ve bought a relatively small number (probably enough for a couple of services) to see how we respond to them. Many of our fellow churches in the Presbytery are utilizing this approach to communion elements due to the pandemic.
We also plan to continue to offer a video worship alternative on Sunday mornings. We want to be clear that we understand that for some attendance in person is not a decision that they are yet comfortable with or may not be wise for general health reasons. Our goal is not to rush anyone back, but to offer the possibility of being together for those who do feel ready for that.
You may respond to the survey in any of several ways.
You may follow this link and take the survey online (your reply will be sent directly to the church email address). If the link does not work for you, copy this address and paste it in your browser window: https://www.gensoup.org/church-survey
If you are reading this on Facebook, you may cut and paste the survey into an email and send it to email@example.com.
For those of you responding by email you can either answer your survey and hit reply which will get it to one of our elders, Judy Morris, who sends out our email blasts, or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for those responding to snail mail you can send your survey to the church at
Hebron Presbyterian Church
4765 N. Preston Highway
Shepherdsville, Kentucky 40165
Thank you to everyone for your continued prayers for our church and for everyone as we make our way through this time. We will get through this together is not a slogan, it’s the truth, with God’s help.
George Love, pastor
Hebron Presbyterian Church
Return To In-Person Worship Survey
The Session plans to return to in-person worship on Sunday, July 19. If we hold in-person services beginning on that date would you be likely to attend?
c) Not Sure
If we do return to in-person worship we will be asking folks to observe social distancing, wear masks, allow temperature to be taken and use hand sanitizer. Would you be willing to observe these practices?
c) Not Sure
We believe that even if when we return to in-person worship we will continue to offer some version of the Sunday service online. Would you find this continuation helpful?
c) Not Sure
Have any of the following been helpful to you while we have not been able to gather? (circle any that apply)
a) Online Sunday Worship
b) Sermon By Phone
c) Online Wednesday Evening Prayer
d) Weekly Email Updates
e) Daily Written Devotionals on FB Page (also on website)
Comment on any of the above
Weekly Congregational E-Mail Update – June 19
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is Friday morning, June 19 as I write to you today.
There is a version of this email that includes prayer concerns that goes out by email. if you are not getting this email and would like to please share you email with us in the comments or message it to us so we can add you to that list.
Tuesday Prayer Group WILL MEET THIS TUESDAY, JUNE 23 AT THE CHURCH AT 11 A.M. We read the current past week’s devotionals from These Days, discuss and share a time of prayer. Any are welcome to come. We will meet outside on the front lawn of the church to begin to see how we go about meeting in person. We ask that you wear a mask. There will be hand sanitizer on site. If you are able to bring a chair that would be great. If not we will bring a chair out from the Activities Building that is easily cleaned. We will maintain social distancing. Again, this is to first of all, allow us to gather for prayer group again and also to help us to begin to understand the mechanics of in person gathering for when we attempt in person worship.
The Session will meet for a second time in June on June 25 to continue discussing our preparation and timing for a return to some sort of in-person worship and will be interested in how the Prayer Group gathering goes.
Thanks to those who brought food for the Food Pantry this past Monday, June 15. Your support of this ministry is appreciated. Looking forward to sharing our online worship experience on Sunday!
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is Friday afternoon, June 12 as I write to you today.
This Sunday, June 14, we will be doing a thing we’ve done many times, a brand new way. We will be electing officers to serve on the Session. Due to the timing of the Coronavirus disruption we have not had that meeting yet, but churches have been given the go ahead to do congregational meetings via Zoom for purposes such as this. Our slate is Beverly Caple, who will be continuing for another term, and Mike Streible, who will be new to the Session. I realize that this is not perfect as some are not able to do Zoom, but it was felt that it was important to get this accomplished so the Session would have it’s full complement of six members. We will send out a Zoom invitation for this tomorrow, Saturday morning to the same list that receives this email. If you are not on that list and are a member who wants to attend that meeting please send your email to email@example.com so that we can add you to the list.
The Session will meet for a second time in June on June 25 to continue discussing our preparation and timing for a return to some sort of in-person worship. I will continue to say that so that you will know that it is being thought about and worked on, but there will likely be further news at least until after the June 25th meeting. Additionally, our Presbytery, the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky is doing a four week series of webinars on online worship as a help for the many of our churches that are doing online worship right now. The Presbytery will, at the completion of four weeks of the webinars, be offering grant money to cover expenses on some basic technology for helping with online worship.
Our next Food Pantry donation dates are this Monday and Tuesday, June 15 and 16. We will have someone at the church on the 15th and 16th from 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. to receive your donations. Thanks for your continued support of this ministry.
A couple of notes about this weekend’s worship service. Lisa Streible will be sharing about her Star Word. Many of you will remember receiving a Star Word back in January. As you listen to Lisa reflect I invite you to consider how you are learning from or being guided or maybe mystified by your word so far this year. If you would like to share please let me know – I will continue to be inviting you to share. Also during worship on Sunday we will recognize our graduates for this year. If you watch and think of a name that we need to add to our list, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. We want to be inclusive of as many folks as are connected to our church family who are celebrating a graduation. The list from Sunday’s worship along with any other names that get sent will appear in this email next week.
I continue to pray for you and to spend time in the Sanctuary in prayer. I continue to ask for your prayers for our church, for each other and for our shared ministry. This is not any easier now than when it began. This is a hard way to be community, but I am imagining God will use this hard circumstance to teach us about being church wherever we are.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is Friday morning, June 5 as I write to you today.
I am praying that you are doing well as we continue to navigate this global pandemic. I am also praying, along with you and so many others in so many places for our country, and for justice and for the peace that emerges from justice.
Some news on upcoming events (there’s several so take good notes)…
Our first attempt at a Kids Club Meeting on Zoom will be this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. I will be sending out invitations to families with kids. If you do not receive one by Sunday morning I’ve either gotten your email wrong or have failed to add it in. Please contact me at email@example.com to get me the email of anyone you would like to receive an invite to the gathering. We plan for it to be a 15-20 minute time together to greet each other, share a story and play a game.
This Sunday is June 7, the first Sunday of the month and therefore a communion Sunday at Hebron. You are encouraged to have your communion elements ready as you prepare to watch the service this week.
The following Sunday, June 14, we will be doing a thing we’ve done many times in a brand new way. We will be electing officers to serve on the Session. Due to the timing of the Coronavirus disruption we have not had that meeting yet, but churches have been given the go ahead to do congregational meetings via Zoom for purposes such as this. Our slate is Beverly Caple, who will be continuing for another term, and Mike Streible, who be new to the Session. At our meeting last night, Thursday, June 4, the Session set the date for the congregational meeting for June 14 where we will elect officers. I realize that this is not perfect as some are not able to do Zoom, but it was felt that it was important to get this accomplished so the Session would have it’s full complement of six members. We will send out a Zoom invitation for this on Saturday of next week using Judy Morris’ list that is used for sending out all congregational e-mails. If you are not on that list and are a member who wants to attend that meeting please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can add you to the list.
The Session also received notice from the family who has been renting the manse that they are working on moving into their own home and will be moving out by July 1. We will be beginning the process of preparing the manse for the next tenant and looking for a new tenant in the next several weeks.
Also the Session received a year to date financial report and a report for the month of May at our meeting, prepared by co-treasurer Lisa Streible. We plan to send those reports out via email this coming Sunday, but for now I want to say they continue to be very good for the circumstances that we are living through. Your generosity and support of Hebron are appreciated by the Session and by me.
Not much has changed on the reopening discussion since last week, but I will reiterate here simply because it’s important to keep talking about it as we look forward to and are preparing for it. We will not open prior to the month of July for in-person worship. We will spend the month of June watching the trends of the virus, how churches and others that have opened have fared and what if anything we can learn from them, accumulating the supplies we know we will need (primarily cleaning related), and thinking through etiquette for actually coming in, worshipping and leaving in a healthy manner. As always it is important to keep in mind (have the expectation) that our worship will look and feel different when we return in some ways that will be immediately obvious when we come back. It will not be a resumption of worship as it was any time in the near future. Also know that for those who do not feel comfortable returning when we do come back our intent is to continue to offer some version of online worship as well. This continues to be a work in process and your prayerful support is coveted. The Session has planned a second June meeting on Thursday, June 25 so that if it appears we are close to a return we can meet to work further on details. We will continue to communicate in these weekly updates.
We have planned our next Food Pantry donation dates for Monday and Tuesday, June 15 and 16 (please note that this is not this coming Monday and Tuesday, but a week from then). We will have someone at the church on the 15th and 16th from 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. to receive your donations. Thanks for your continued support of this ministry.
As I close this week I again encourage you to be holding up our nation in prayer. Our problems can seem so large that we can imagine that doing anything about them is beyond any one person and may in fact be impossible. Our faith says otherwise. Our faith is a faith that takes hope seriously.
Musician and author David Lamotte, in his book Worldchanging 101, points out the difference between fixing the world and changing the world:
“If we are talking about fixing the world – eliminating all conflict, strife, and injustice – then some eye rolling is unquestionably in order. But it is not naive to think you can change the world.
In fact, it is naive to think that you could possibly be in the world and not change it. Everything you do changes the world whether you like it or not. So the questions we must ask ourselves are, ‘Which changes will we make?’, and ‘How will we go about making them?'”
We have heard and seen the pain of the African-American community in these recent days. I know that it is not enough for me to wish for things to be fair and equal and just. I must face hard truths about the way we have lived in our society and honestly ask how I can be part of the change to a better way, with God’s help. One way or another we will change the world. Let’s lean into our faith and ask God to help us change the world for the good.
“When days grow dark and nights grow dreary, we can be thankful that our God combines in his nature a creative synthesis of love and justice which will lead us through life’s valleys and into sunlit pathways of hope and fulfillment.” (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his sermon, A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart)
May 30, 2020
Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I want to begin by reviewing where we are with the ways in which we gather and communicate with each other.
*Our first online worship service was March 15 meaning that this Sunday, May 31 (Pentecost Sunday!) will be our 12th week of virtual worship.
*On April 29 we began a Wednesday Evening Prayer video offering, which has now had five mid-week prayer times posted.
*Two weeks ago we added the option of the Sermon By Phone – (502) 212-5863 – which you may dial at any time and hear the current weeks sermon.
*Most weeks since March 15 we have communicated via a weekly email update.
A question that I am sure many are interested in continues to be what plans might be for returning to in-person worship. Here is what we have shared from our last Session meeting in previous communications:
We have decided that we will not be returning for in-person worship prior to the beginning of July. This does not mean that we will return at the beginning of July, but that it will not be earlier than that. We also decided that even when we do return it will be important to continue some sort of online presence as we are reaching people in those offerings who we would not have reached if we were only in person.
We have begun to acquire things like sanitizer and touchless thermometers which we will need when we return to in-person worship. We will be asking folks to wear masks when we return and know that many folks have acquired their own by this point, but also plan to have masks on hand. We have yet to make a definite determination, but it is likely when we return we will begin in the Activities Building as it allows us to more easily create the necessary spacing to keep the social distancing that is necessary in place. We will be looking at what that will mean in terms of how many we will be able to have in worship at one time.
And here is a bit more background…
Directions from Presbytery and from a number of experts on how the faith community will need to navigate their returns to in person worship have been clear that singing will not be an option, at least in the immediate future. The mechanics of singing is such that it is a very effective way of spreading germs. When there is a virus that is as dangerous as COVID-19 and for which there is presently no vaccine, that means no singing.
Religious gatherings are regularly identified as among the most risky of the opening back up activities. There is a long way to say why, but the short of it is that it’s a group of people in a closed in space for a somewhat lengthy amount of time. Carefully following the protocols mitigates the risk, but it still is problematic. Waiting until July allows us the advantage of seeing how the project of reopening things in general is going, specifically how if the virus seems to be on the decrease, holding steady or spiking. It also allows us to learn from any churches that are returning to worship about what may be working or what does not work.
My heartfelt belief, which I have shared with the Session and I believe which they share, is that we want to be cautious. We are able to worship virtually – God has given us the technology to be able to do that and even to reach a bit beyond ourselves in doing so – what a blessing! Even when we do return it may be that some will rightfully feel that it is not yet time for them to do so and will prefer to continue to worship from home for a time. What continues to be true is that there is much that is unknown and which we will not know with any certainty until we are further down the road. I am appreciative of the way that you have rallied in the face of this adversity, have offered words of support and encouragement about the online worship experience and have worked at being supportive of one another. You all are amazing and it is such a blessing to be a pastor at Hebron.
As a celebration, our Session at its May meeting received Bob and Helen Sarver as members. They were welcomed during our virtual worship on Sunday, May 24.
Please send prayer concerns to email@example.com (indicating if they are private or to be shared) or text me at (502) 492-3223.
This Sunday, May 31, is Pentecost Sunday. I have received many pictures of you (adults and children) dressed in red or prepared for a birthday celebration. I’ve got a couple of pets also – which is awesome – it is a party and in the midst of the spring of the Coronavirus we must embrace the opportunities to party! If you haven’t sent your picture yet, please send it to the same email or text it to the same as the prayer concerns.
I think finally for this week I want to share that I have prayed a lot about our kids while we have been away from physical attendance at church. I think as much as being together means to all of us it is especially important for our children and hard on them not to be together in person. And given the restrictions that will be a necessary part of our gatherings when we do return it will still be different for them. Starting in the next couple of weeks (details to be worked out through communicating with children’s families) we hope to do a weekly 15 to 20 minute Zoom gathering for the kids. Long enough to see each other, share a story and a game, activity or craft, but not so long that it’s a chore to keep everyone’s attention. Watch for info about this on Facebook, in future emails, and always feel free to contact me with questions about this or anything else.
Looking forward to celebrating the Day of Pentecost on Sunday!
Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is Saturday, May 23 as I write – one day away from our next online worship gathering and one week away from the Day of Pentecost. I am really looking forward to Pentecost – I think there is a unique message for that day in the midst of all of this and I can’t wait to work through it with you!
Some things to look forward to in worship tomorrow. We’ll finish six weeks of digging around in 1 Peter. It’s turned out to be a great place to search for God’s word for us in this pandemic. Looking forward to sharing that tomorrow and as I said to next week and Pentecost. Also tomorrow…
We’ll have a word from Rick Caple, both as Co-Treasurer and as someone who gives of his time to care for the church, in part because of his long-time roots at Hebron.
We’ll have a great Call To Worship by the Dessart family.
We’ll receive Bob and Helen Sarver as members of Hebron.
Hoop will be helping us be thankful for school, teachers and family who help us to learn.
Also a reminder that sometime during the day the sermon audio for this week will be up on our Sermon-By-Phone line, (502) 212-5863. Anyone can dial that number at any time and hear the current weeks sermon. I have heard reports that several of you are accessing this, some as the primary way of staying connected with worship and some who like to listen after watching the worship video. Either way, I am glad for this resource and invite you to check it out.
Wednesday Evening Prayer is a video offering that is available typically on Wednesday evenings, becoming available sometime between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. It is a briefer time together than Sunday worship and is intended to be a mid-week check-in time with a prayer and a devotional to pick up our spirits and renew our connection between Sundays.
Pentecost is Sunday, May 31. When we have worshipped in person we have been invited to wear red, the liturgical color of the day, reminding us of the flames that appeared on the disciples heads on the day when they experienced the Holy Spirit as portrayed in Acts 2. To celebrate and to allow us to see one another YOU ARE INVITED AND ENCOURAGED to send a picture of yourself wearing red and/or wearing a birthday hat or looking like you are ready for a birthday celebration (Pentecost is celebrated as the birthday of the church). We will make a photo montage and share them in the worship video that day. I hope lots of the children will participate, but this is not just for children. Folks watching the videos love to see the faces that they miss seeing around them in the pews. Please share by sending the photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or texting them to 502-492-3223.
We have an excellent tutorial of our website which Charlie Hartley has prepared which will have a permanent home on the webpage, but will be linked to on Facebook sometime this coming week as well. It’s great if you are just learning your way around navigating a website and it’s a good overall explanation of everything that is available at our website as well.
Again, nothing new to add here, but will reiterate that our Session at its last meeting decided that we would not have in person worship prior to the month of July. We are acquiring things we will need to have on hand (cleaning supplies and related items) that we will need when we do return, but we are not planning to return any sooner than that and please hear that we are saying no sooner, but also leaving the possibility open that it could be further away than the beginning of July as well. Simply put, we have ways of worshipping together in this time when we cannot gather and we want to make sure that when we return we do so in the safest manner possible. Have a great week.
Grace and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
It is Friday morning, May 15 as I write to you this week. I pray that you are well and continue to miss seeing everyone, but continue to be grateful for all the ways we are able to stay connected. I continue to invite your prayer concerns – it is important that we continue to share our joys and concerns.
I want to let you know about an additional way to stay in touch with our worship. Many of you have access to the computer and can get to our website or Facebook and access the Sunday worship service video in that way. A few do not. As a means of providing another way of connecting we have joined a service called Sermon-By-Phone. It allows me to take the audio from the Sunday sermon and upload it to a place where it can be accessed with an old fashioned phone call. To access the Sunday message in this way, dial (502) 212-5863. You will hear a computer voice say, “Welcome to Hebron Presbyterian Church Sunday sermon, the sermon will begin in a moment” and then the next voice you hear will be me. You can call it whenever you would like and it should be updated with the sermon for the current week by Sunday evening or Monday afternoon at the latest.
The Session met this past Thursday evening, May 14 via Zoom. We had a good meeting and began to lay the ground work to be able to return to being together in person. Everyone was in agreement that this should not be a hurried process and when we do it we want to do it as well as we can and as safely as we can.
Some things were identified as things we will need to have on hand for the time when we return and we will begin to acquire those items – primarily things related to cleaning. We discussed the likelihood that when we return our first gathering place will likely be the Activities Building as it is a more flexible space and easier to do the necessary distancing. There was agreement that we will continue to worship with virtual worship through the month of June. The possibility exists that we may do some in person gathering in June, but no sooner than Sunday, June 14. If and when we do gather in June we will share when that will be and what that will look like. Primarily it would be a way for us to see each other and to kind of practice and work out the processes necessary for meeting in person before we actually transition to worshipping in person again.
The Session will meet next on Thursday, June 4. If you have any questions or anything you would like to share with the Session as we continue to plan please email us at email@example.com. Our first priority is that we do all that we can to make sure that when we return we can be as safe as possible and have considered how everyone will be able to participate, including those who will be able to come in person and those who for a variety of reasons will not feel comfortable coming in person at that point.
Be sure and worship with us this weekend. One of the parts of the service will be a conversation with Josh Streible who is graduating this year from North Bullitt High School. Josh will share what it’s been like to be a graduate in these crisis times and what he’s looking forward to. Also a heads up – I’m looking for more pictures – Hoop will be focusing on this in the Moments With Children. This time I’m looking for pictures of you to share in a Pentecost slide show. It’s great to see everyone’s faces in these special pieces and this one is focused on Pentecost Sunday which is Sunday, May 31. Dress up in red, take a picture of yourself around a campfire, have a fan blowing the wind through your hair, get a dove to pose with you if you can talk them into it – something to symbolize the Holy Spirit and the gift of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The pictures will be put together and shared in worship on May 31.
Continue to pray for our church, our country and our world as we navigate this Coronavirus. Keep staying in touch and supporting each other. Keep reminding yourself that you are the church scattered, living out your faith in the place where you have the greatest impact.
Grace and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is Thursday afternoon, May 7 as I am writing to you today. We will be worshipping together virtually for the ninth time this coming Sunday. It seems like this all began a week ago and years ago at the same time. I pray that you are doing well. A couple of prayer concerns to share with you…
*Becky Sharp asks for prayers for her neighbor, Kelley Shleg, who underwent shoulder surgery today.
*Nancy Lawson asks for prayers for her brother Harry’s mother-in-law, Edwina Griscom. Edwina lost her husband 8 months ago and now is fighting COVID-19 in a nursing home in Wilmington, Delaware.
*Nan Wilkins has spoken in the past day or so with both Norma Myers and Edith Bare. She shared that they both have birthdays coming up and suggested it would be a great time to drop a card to them and celebrate these special days! Both birthdays are on May 18 – Norma will be 88 and Edith will be 90. The addresses in the Directory will work for both of them. Edith’s room # has changed to 15. I am not including their full addresses here as this gets posted to several platforms, but if you need an address please contact me.
Please continue to contact me with prayer concerns one of the following ways:
email at firstname.lastname@example.org
text or call at 502 492 3223
I have nothing further to share at this time on when we will gather again and what that will look like. The Presbytery is working with the state and other denominational governing bodies to help us out with guidance and that work continues. Hopefully I’ll be better able to share something in next weeks email.
One thing that is at the front of my thinking today is that our pantry is just about cleared out. It’s time for another invitation to come and leave items to restock the shelves. Someone will be at the church on Monday and on Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You are welcome to bring food for the pantry and leave it on the porch/side entrance. We’ll come out and get it and see that it gets put on the shelf. I want to encourage you not to get weary of this project and to keep in front of you the reality that this is a tangible, front line way to meet needs in our community. Problems with lack of food are real, and have become more intense for many during the pandemic. I have heard some alarming statistics about the need for hunger assistance and it’s important to know that when we help meet a need of hunger we may also be meeting other needs including basic stability in fragile homes with our gifts. Our small box in the side yard at church is not going to make all the difference. No one thing is going to make all the difference. But we can do this thing and we can make a difference and I believe that is what Jesus would ask of us – make a difference in His name and beginning near the steps of our church to make that difference is a great opportunity for us to share God’s love.
Mother’s Day blessings this Sunday to all moms and all who have served as a mom in the life of someone. Say thanks to all the moms that have touched your life as you have the opportunity.
Worship this Sunday will include a pastoral prayer shared by former Hebron seminarian Mike Beckman, and Jason Shockley is working on a piece of music that we hope will be ready for this week! Hoop will have a message for the kids on how they are “living stones” that God is using to build the future and that message as well as my sermon will based on 1 Peter 2:2-10.
Also, as we have made a practice of doing and as is especially important these days, we want to celebrate with you. In particular if you have someone in your family, in our church family or larger church family graduating from Pre K, Kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, High School, College or anything else that you can graduate from we want to honor you and share your joy. We will have gifts for our churches High School and College graduates, but want to celebrate with everybody who is achieving a special milestone. Please share the name of your graduate along with where and what grade or degree they are graduating from or receiving. Thank you!
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
It is Tuesday, April 28 as I write this update to you. I continue to pray that you are doing well and that you have what you need. I want to begin with prayer updates to keep our prayer life at the front of our thoughts.
Rich Anderson continues to battle in his rehab process. I received an email update this morning that there are some positives, but there continue to be some worrisome things as well. He has a fever that seems to be getting higher. Additional x-rays and other tests have been done, it’s a long process of looking for what might be a problem while at the same time eliminating things through tests. He also needed to have a blood transfusion. Debbie, his wife, is able to face time with him. A reminder that he is recovering from a surgical procedure and not from the Coronavirus.
Prayers are appreciated for the family of Junior Sizemore. Junior was the ex-husband of Hilda’s sister Shirley. This is an especially hard loss for Hilda’s niece Jenny as she has been busy caring for both her mom and her dad. He died from complications after a surgical procedure.
As always call or text me at 502 492 3223 or email the church at email@example.com with your prayer concerns. Indicate if the request is private for the time being or if you would like to have the request shared. Of course we continue to pray for God to lead us through this pandemic – let’s keep that prayer ever before us.
This past Sunday, April 26, was the third Sunday of the season of Easter and the seventh of virtual worship. I know this is hard for everyone – all of it is hard – but not being able to be together is especially hard when we have been for so long able to take the choice to come to worship for granted. I have come to believe that this is not simply a thing that we must get through, but that there are things to be learned from this as well. We want something very much – to gather for worship. It is not yet the wise or healthy choice to do so. So we must learn to make do in this wilderness time. And we would benefit from contemplating the things we miss. Why they are so meaningful to us. And what we are learning about them and about ourselves in their absence.
I’ll give you a couple of things you can look for in this weekends worship service. Joyce Jaco has recorded a wonderful piece on the piano for us. Maureen Clark, our former seminary intern, will be leading us in the prayers of the people. Charlie Hartley will be sharing about history and memories and extending an invitation to all of us to share our memories in a creative way. This Sunday is also the first Sunday of the month which means that we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper. You are invited to have your bread or crackers and whatever you will use for the cup prepared and ready as you begin to watch the worship. I will remind you at the beginning that this will be coming up.
Also, look for a mid-week evening prayer video to appear, beginning with one for tonight. This will be a shorter time simply to share a prayer and check-in mid-week. I will post that to Facebook around 7:00 p.m. tonight (Wednesday).
I will continue to include the address for where to send your offering and continue to say thank you if this is something you are able to do at this time and also that we understand if it is not. Beyond that if there are special needs within our church family that you may be experiencing please feel welcome to share those with me. I will keep them in confidence except in an instance where they are asked to be shared, but it is important to communicate that you we want to be whatever help we may be able to be and don’t want to neglect any needs simply because we didn’t ask.
Hebron Presbyterian Church
4765 N. Preston Highway 40165
In my last email I’d mentioned the possibility of trying a Bible study on Zoom. I only got one response so I thought we might wait on that, however I do think we will try just a simple Zoom coffee hour Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. I’ll set up a meeting and Judy will send out invites to our email list. It should be possible for folks who do not have computers to use a phone to call in if you would like to – you should at least be able to hear folks. It could be a little chaotic at first, but we don’t learn if we don’t try. For those who might want to call in and don’t get emails you will need to get a phone number that you will call in to and then a meeting code which you will be asked for when you call in. You can get that from whoever is getting the information in this email to you as they will receive the Zoom call email as well.
Our website – hebronpc.net – and our Facebook page continue to be a good places to find the daily devotionals and the worship videos.
This is a transformational time in our world. We are in between what we were and what we are becoming. That can be painful and frustrating and very hard at times. But it can also be a time of opportunity as we together discover what God is leading us towards next.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
It is Thursday morning, April 16 as I write this update to you. I pray that you are doing well and that you have what you need. I want to lead with inviting you to share any prayer concerns you have so that we can continue to hold one another up in prayer. This mutual caring and support is the lifeblood of our community of faith, especially in this time when we cannot physically gather together for worship, study and fellowship.
The most recent update I have seen for Rich Anderson indicates that he is holding his own, but continues to have a steep hill to climb. Continued prayers are appreciated.
Maurine Fisher, asks that we continue to be praying for Mike Howerton. Further invasive procedures are not an option at this time for Mike which means medication is his only means of treatment for ongoing heart issues.
Spike Fraley’s nephew Greg Draper who lives in Nashville had tested positive for COVID-19. I have spoken with Spike since then and he reports that it appears Greg is going to be okay.
A prayer concern was shared with us by Carolyn Wilkins. Chris McIntire, the son of Bob Ramsey and his wife Debbie, died early last week suddenly and unexpectedly, although he had experience some health issues. Chris 48, served as a Marine and was retired from the J-town police force. He leaves behind a son and daughter, ages 17 and 19. Bob Ramsey, Chris’ father is Carolyn’s brother. Your prayers for Chris’ family are appreciated in this time of loss.
Nancy Lawson asks for prayers for David Pitts. David is the husband of a co-worker and is having a challenging time following a surgery he recently underwent.
You received an email from Judy about her friend Kelly’s husband Don. While Kelly has lost both of her parents and her brother to COVID-19, her husband Don is improving and is off the ventilator. Thanks be to God. Let’s be praying for Don’s continued improvement and for Kelly in the midst of both sorrow and joy.
Share your prayer concerns by calling me at 502 492 3223 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Easter was our fifth Sunday of virtual worship. My old phone ran its course the week prior to Easter which meant a new phone and also the capability of downloading an app that allows me to edit together videos to make the virtual worship a little easier to watch. I hope these services have been helpful. I know that it is not anything like the same as being alongside of your church family in the pews on Sunday morning, but it is a gift from God that we have the ability to gather in this way. This coming Sunday, April 19, I will be starting a series of sermons that will see us spending six weeks in the book of 1 Peter. I am pretty sure that is five weeks longer than I’ve ever spent with 1 Peter at one time and I am looking forward to getting deeply into this letter and to discovering why God placed it in front of us at this moment in time. Also this Sunday, I will be sharing a video of my friend Deborah Phillips singing a solo that was shared with her congregation in their video last week. Deborah is the wife of my friend Buran Phillips, pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. Buran and Deb and Julie and I go back to our days at Louisville Seminary where we studied and played Pictionary together. You will enjoy Deb’s gift of music. We will also have a message from one of our church members that I will leave as a surprise. I saw a Facebook post this member made and was really inspired by it and asked them if they would make a video version of it to share with you so we should have that for you on Sunday.
You may have already seen an email that our co-treasurer Lisa Streible sent this morning. It shared our financial statement through the first three months of 2020. This means that it included three Sundays that we were worshipping virtually. The statement is a testimony to your faithfulness, generosity and commitment to our congregation. Through those first three months our income is slightly ahead of our spending. This is remarkable. Again, offering can be sent to the church or directly to our co-treasurer Rick Caple.
Hebron Presbyterian Church
4765 N. Preston Highway
Shepherdsville, Kentucky 40165
As your pastor I cannot tell you how much I am moved by your commitment to Hebron. This has shown up also in your support for the Food Pantry mini-donation drive we had earlier this week and many of you simply stopping by and stocking it when you are out after you have been to the store. As I’ve mentioned also previously I keep calling you and finding out that you all have already been talking to, checking on, and caring for each other. This time is a hard time, but the body of Christ if it was built for anything was built for meeting hard times. You are being the body of Christ. Hallelujah – that is some Easter good news!
I am looking at trying to convene a Wednesday evening gathering, structured around a study of 1 Peter, but mostly to give us a time to see each other and say hello. I am thinking I will use Zoom to do this. I have never really used Zoom (I’ve been on it a couple of times, but have not hosted a gathering). I think – if I understand it correctly that you would not need a computer or iPad to participate. Folks with that kind of technology should be able to participate and both see, hear and talk with each other. I am hopeful that folks with a phone who would like to will also be able to dial in and join the gathering – I believe it will work for just audio as well as for audio and video. If you would like to participate please be sure and let me know. Send me an email at email@example.com or call me at 502 492 3223. Tell me that you would like to participate and if you have an email go ahead and tell me what it is (even if you think I already have it). I believe the way it would work for folks with computers is that I would send an email invitation and you would click on it to come to the gathering. I think for those who would be calling in I just need to get you a phone number. This is obviously a work in progress and hopefully it won’t be something we need to do for a long time, but it is something worth exploring now.
Know that I am praying for you every morning as I read the days scripture and work on the devotional that I am posting for the day. I know that you are praying for me, I can feel the encouragement. I can’t really put it in a clearer statement than the Governor does everyday –
We will get through this.
We will get through this together.
We’ll be back as the church gathered in our beloved sanctuary when it is the right time. In the meantime keep right on being the church where ever you are.
Just want to take a few moments to connect with you by email and reiterate some of the other ways we are trying to stay connected.
At this point – today is Saturday, March 28 – we have posted two video worship messages (Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22). We have also posted a video with a message to the children that was recorded outside at the bell tower. All three can be found by scrolling down our Facebook page OR by going to the Sermons 2020 page for the messages or to the devotional page for the Children’s message. The message for tomorrow, Sunday, March 29, will post tomorrow.
Our Co-Treasurer Rick Caple has shared that we have received some offering gifts in the mail. Thank you to those who are able to continue to support the church with your tithes and offerings at this time. We understand, again, that this may be a challenge for some at this time, but for those who are able it is good to experience the continued support of Hebron even as we are not able to gather in person. As mentioned in my last email you may send your offering either to the church or directly to Rick.
Hebron Presbyterian Church
4765 N. Preston Highway
Shepherdsville, Kentucky 40165
Currently we are ringing the bell each day at 10:00 a.m. as the Governor has suggested. It’s a great way to assert that we are still here and that we are together. Some have offered to ring the bell. If you would like to ring the bell some upcoming day at 10:00 a.m. and are able to go by the church and do that call me (502 492 3223), text me or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know what day you would like to do it. I will get back to you to let you know I received your message.
I am writing a devotional each day (so far) going under the title of Scripture and the Spring of COVID-19. It’s based on a scripture from the daily lectionary readings and what is happening as we deal with the Coronavirus. It also is accessible each day on our Facebook page and on our website. If you speak with anyone who does not have access to electronic ability to access it and would like to read it, please let me know and I will print out copies and mail them.
There are copies of These Days devotionals at church for the months of April, May and June. If you do not yet have a copy and would like one, please let me know and I’ll get one to you.
I continue to invite your prayer requests. Keeping our concerns and our celebrations known is a great way to keep in community. Again, if you share a prayer concern please let me know if you would prefer that it remain private now or if it is alright to share it with folks. Thanks. Know that you are all in my prayer. I am coming over to church most days, to ring the bell and to work a bit in my office. I like to go in the sanctuary from time to time and get some steps walking around the pews and praying for you as I pass the places where you typically sit.
I read recently where someone said that this was the “Lentiest Lent They Ever Lented.” An odd thought maybe, but I think we kind of know what they mean. Lent is all about that in between time. This is that. Holy Week this year and Easter will be unlike any we have ever experienced. But they will still happen. Holy Week will come and so will Easter. And know this. There will be worship posted of some sort for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and for Easter. AND, whenever we are able to return to worship in our Sanctuary, that will be our Easter celebration as well. Count on it.
Hebron is exactly 162 years old today (remember – it’s March 28 – the day in 1858 when the first worship was held here). The church has seen Civil War, World Wars, the Great Depression, September 11 and so much more. And here we are. We’ll see this through and we will be back.
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In response to the request of the Governor that churches in Kentucky consider cancelling worship for this Sunday, March 15, I have been in conversation with other pastors, taken into account a letter to churches in our Presbytery from our Presbytery Executive, John Odom, and watched as things have progressed as events are postponed and cancelled in our area and around the nation. I have consulted with our Session and they have unanimously agreed that we will cancel worship at Hebron for this Sunday, March 15. We will make decisions for subsequent weeks as they come and as events continue to unfold and as more information and direction is shared by experts.
I am aware that there are churches that are making decisions like we have made to close and others that are choosing to not cancel at this point. This is clearly a difficult decision and I am not making any conclusions about what others should do. What I would like to do is explain a bit of the rationale for our decision.
Many of our folks fall into the category of “over 60 with underlying health issues.” This leads me to two points:
- Even if we encourage vulnerable folks to stay home, many of our most faithful participants are in this category and I believe a decision to go ahead and gather gives the impression that at some level we think this is a safe thing to do.
- I’m not convinced at this point that having some folks stay home while others gather accomplishes the goal we are trying to reach. Those who are younger and/or healthier may not be in as much danger from the virus, but may still carry the virus or acquire the virus. Being in contact in a gathering is an opportunity for the virus to move around, even if that particular gathering is mostly composed of what appear to be healthy people. They will eventually leave the gathering and be in contact with others (friends, family, etc.) as they go about their daily lives.
At present we (us along with the experts) are still learning about COVID-19. We know for certain at this point that we are at the front end and it is going to grow before it subsides. We have decided it is a wise at present to cancel rather than to continue on with worship as we normally would until we know more about the implications of our actions.
We are experiencing a great disruption in our daily lives. Sporting events, school districts and colleges, and a variety of other events are cancelling and closing. We are still learning about new changes and disruptions almost by the minute. These are hard things. Cancelling Sunday morning worship is a hard thing. I think for us at this moment it’s a hard thing that we can do. I also believe it is the right thing to do what we have been asked to do by people in leadership who have the best and the most information. We will continue to monitor developments and make subsequent decisions as the situation develops.
We have an opportunity as a society right now to set the example of facing the disruption of our lives in the short time so that the longer term will not be as bad as it could be and the situation might resolve somewhat sooner rather than continuing for a longer time. I am prayerfully hopeful that at the end of this all will be well and that we will have played a positive role in promoting the health of those in our church and community.
I plan to record a video of a message/worship experience to post on our Facebook page and perhaps on YouTube for Sunday. There will also be an audio version available at our website. This limits those who can access it to those with technology, but it is an attempt to provide a way of staying in contact through a worship experience. Also we will be working on prayer chain contacts, in particular trying to be sure we identify folks who are not likely to have access to Facebook and/or email and for whom a phone call is the most reliable form of communication.
God has guided the life of Hebron Presbyterian Church for more than 160 years and continues with us in this present circumstance and will into the future.
“When my anxieties multiply, your comforting calms me down.” Psalm 94:17
In our anxiety, let us lean on God and be comforted by God’s calming presence.
Rev. George Love
Pastor, Hebron Presbyterian Church